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Ornithos - La Trasfigurazione CD (album) cover



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Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The early word on Ornithos: All hail the Ibis!

Ornithos is a "new" project from about one-half of Italian powerhouse prog band Il Bacio Della Medusa. The origins of the group go back to around 1999 but in 2007 work began in earnest on this wonderful debut. The band features IBDM drummer and multi-instrumentalist Diego Petrini, bassist Federico Caprai, and the ever charming and talented Eva Morelli, who handles all of the flute and saxophone work. All three members are credited with composition but Petrini would seem to write the most. The rest of the group consists of Antonello De Cesare (lead guitar), Simone Morelli (rhythm guitar), and lead vocalist Maria Giulia Carnevalini. At the very heart of Ornithos is a clearly stated goal of pure freedom of musical expression. The band's symbol is the Ibis and the name also reveres Thoth who was an Egyptian God of knowledge and writing.

So let's tackle the big question many RPI fans will have: How does Ornithos compare with Il Bacio Della Medusa? (By the way, IBDM have their own new album coming out in 2012, so watch for that!) When I wrote the Bio for this band's artist page, the few songs I'd heard led me to believe the difference between Ornithos and IBDM were subtle, but after hearing the whole album that statement was premature. Oh, they share sound characteristic of course, how could they not? Petrini, Morelli, and Caprai all play here with the same power and passion as they do in Medusa. Eva's flute is instantly recognizable and I can practically imagine Diego back there drumming with one hand on his keyboards, though of course in the studio I imagine he'd prefer doing one at a time!

But despite the similarities there are also some differences. Most noticeable initially is the absence of Simone Cecchini's big and bold vocal presence, but Ornithos use this as their chance to become what is primarily an instrumental jamming band. Yes there are vocals and Maria Giulia Carnevalini contributes some beautiful work here but primarily this is instrumental rock. While IBDM did have instrumental breaks and heavy jamming, Ornithos will sometimes go a different direction into jazzier realms while of course still maintaining the "heavy prog" vibe. On these tracks Eva will switch to the saxophone while De Cesare and Simone Morelli will work up into frenzied interplay with Caprai and Petrini. When De Cesare breaks for an electric solo there is no question he can tear it up ferocious, and in fact all of the guitar work is exciting, both electric and acoustic. Eva has also expanded her chops and is a significant lead presence. All of the musicians gel beautifully, frankly there are too many kickass moments to start noting them.

Apart from these different jazzy sections there is still some very cool hard rock edge (think some of the 70s raucous Italian hard prog bands), some lively acoustic folk prog sections with great celebratory flair, and of course a few lovely soft moments with Eva's flute over mellotron, recalling some of the most basic and traditional progressive rock vibes. I love the opening when Petrini plays piano over mellotron, and he also kills with that nasty old-school organ sound throughout, that dark alley sound, a bit of a Deep Purple growl to it. Another tasty sound morsel which I loved was the occasional drop of a whimsical bit, little runs of Renaissance vibe, mysterious sound effects, or something from childhood, coming and going fast and giving the album a dreamy presence. They are only momentary though, as soon the band takes off again with an overall sound that is rich with myth and thunder, aggression and tales of the ages. The last cool aspect, and the reason I don't get into individual tracks here is that this album is the kind that feels like a continuous long piece, flowing track to track without pauses, a complete "free" epic composition. This makes it all the more pleasurable to pull the shades, turn down the lights, and have a complete music experience. This is music for lovers of the craft, not product for quick consumption. An adventure with emotional highs and lows. And that is where Ornithos ties back to Medusa...both take you on adventures. This is an early review and I've only had the album for a few days, but already this is a very easy 4 stars for me. It's great.

This AMS original issue is a beautiful gatefold mini-lp sleeve package with full dual-paneled Caprai art both inside and out. The lyrics booklet and CD itself also include matching artwork. Ornithos have delivered a memorable debut which should thrill any progressive rock fans, but especially fans of the wondrous 70s Italian scene. The winds of that scene live on in the Ibis. Bravo Ornithos bravo!

Report this review (#768715)
Posted Saturday, June 9, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Ornithos is one of the most pleasent and solid prog rock bands coming from Italy in last years. With members from another well known prog band from Italy Il Bacio Della Medusa, Ornithos manage to create a very enjoyble and full of memorable passages. La transfigurazione is the name issued few month ago at AMS records. From the first piece L'orologio, followed by the second tune La Persistenza Della Memoria, ( to me the best moments of the album) this band shows big potential in this field, a combination of symphonic prog , the eclectic side of it with some jazz rock arrangements moments here and there. I like a lot the male voice on La Persistenza Della Memoria, quite dark but so well integrated in the atmosphere of the piece, really nice. All pieces stands as great, not a weak moment here, spacially the first 8 tunes are little more consistent then the rest, but never the less a very entertaining release from start to finish.Top notch guitar in duel with the keyboards and aswell some fine flute moments here and there .The album sound overall smells of '70's prog in the glory days, a retro feel but very well presented in our days. Another thing that needs attention is that the album is released as mini LP with excellent front gatefold cover made by the bassist of the band Federico Caprai , aswell inside painting. Really nice and exactly in the mood with the music offered. So, to my ears this is a great album that desearve attention from all prog rock lovers, has everything to become among the top albums in last years not only from 2012. Well presented package, well composed music, and well deserarved 4stars, recommended for sure.
Report this review (#793931)
Posted Tuesday, July 24, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Likely to be of great interest to RPI fans is this new and first release from Ornithos. I say likely to be of interest because Ornithos actually consists of half the members of one of the greatest Italian prog bands of the last decade, since those golden years of the seventies even, Il Bacio Della Medusa. We get BDM's versatile rhythm section of Diego Petrini and Federico Caprai on drums and bass respectively and Eva Morelli on flute and sax. They are joined by guitarists Antonello De Cesare and Simone Morelli and vocalist Maria Giulia Carnevalini.

As both bands have an album out this year comparisons are understandably going to be made. Whilst similarities are sometimes apparent, Ornithos whilst featuring some explosive and heavy playing dispense with any hint of metal which sometimes shows in BDM's sound. La Trasfigurazione is a more diverse record, more adventurous even with a looser sound which touches on jazz, heavy rock, prog, the occasional 60's psych flavour and mellower acoustic touches. It's an album more in favour of extended instrumental workouts than vocal led parts, effective though they are when present. You can imagine in a live setting these songs going on indefinitely as the band jam away. As expected the musicianship is excellent and the diverse and constantly shifting nature of the thirteen compositions make for a captivating listen, the sum of the whole better than individual pieces.

Overall La Trasfigurazione is a strong album and I certainly hope this doesn't turn out to be a one off. Is it as good as Deus lo Vult, the Il Bacio Della Medusa album also released this year? Some may think so but for me I prefer the harder hitting and visceral nature of BDM. Nevertheless, essential listening for Italian prog lovers.

Report this review (#808740)
Posted Wednesday, August 22, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Ornithos began life in Perugia in 1999 on the initiative of Diego Petrini and Federico Caprai. Both founder members later contribute to form another excellent band, Il Bacio della Medusa, and for some time Ornithos became just a kind of side project. So, it wasn't until 2007 that they started to work hard on a debut album that was finally released in 2012 on the independent label AMS/BTF with a line up featuring along with Diego Petrini (drums, percussion, Mellotron, organ, piano, vocals) and Federico Caprai (bass, vocals) another member of Il Bacio della Medusa, Eva Morelli (flute, sax), Antonello De Cesare (guitars, vocals), Simone Morelli (guitars) and Maria Giulia Carnevalini (vocals). The result of their efforts is a complex concept album, "La trasfigurazione" (The transfiguration), that tries to describe in music and words the cathartic path that a man has to walk to reach the highest level of his consciousness, purifying himself to live in harmony with the universe. The overall sound of the band is clearly influenced by bands such as Jethro Tull, Emerson Lake & Palmer, King Crimson and by the Italian prog masters of the seventies but there are many original ideas as well.

The concept is divided in three chapters. The first one, "Il trittico del tempo che fu" (The triptych of the past), takes you back in time for an inner trip as through a psychoanalytical session. The opener "L'orologio" (The clock) begins softly and you can hear the strikes of a clock... "Unrelenting, time passes by and everything changes... We change too...". There are many changes in rhythm and mood, lively flute passages alternates with frenzied guitar solos drawing you in the vortex of time. The following track "La persistenza della memoria" (The persistence of memory), drives you towards obscure, invisibles cities and in such surroundings the mind loses its perspective as if it was lost in a limbo, "time and space become trivial and unreal, and echoes of a forgotten prehistoric past beat insistently upon the enthralled consciousness..." (well, this is quote from a short story by H.P. Lovecraft I was reading when listening for the first time to the album, The Tomb, from 1917). Past memories hanging on the heart of Time shine through dreamy atmospheres leading to "Somatizzando l'altare di fuoco" (Somatizing the altar of fire) that marks the beginning of a new awareness. Here Ennio Morricone comes to mind thanks to a sax solo evoking a "spaghetti western" scenario. The instrumental "Ipostasi" concludes the first chapter. It features tango and flamenco flavours and tries to describe the perpetual fight between sensuality and spirituality.

The second chapter, "Presa di coscienza del presente" (Awareness of the present) begins with the lively marching beat of the beautiful instrumental "Al torneo" (At the tournament). Fiery keyboards rides alternates with aggressive guitar solos evoking the eternal fight against false morals and media that try to manipulate your brain. The following "L'arrivo dell'orco ? Fuga" (The arrival of the ogre ? Fugue) is jazzier, darker. It's another excellent instrumental that tries to describe the fight of a man against discord and fear (allegorically impersonated by the character of the ogre). It leads to the dreamy "Nuvole e luce" (Clouds and light) where the clear voice of Maria Giulia Carnevalini evokes magic perfumes and bright colours. Time is sliding away, confused by sources of light. But hatred is always biding its time and the short "Ritorno al... (Reprise)", a reprise of "Al torneo", sounds like a warning suggesting that you can never relax and give up your fight. "Salamandra: regina di Psiche e Saggezza" (Salamander: queen of Psyche and Wisdom) concludes the second chapter with the lead vocals provided by Diego Petrini and Maria Giulia Carnevalini underlying the insecurity and uncertainty created by an inner conflict. Without pain and memory you can't understand the complexity of the world and you risk to become just like a giant of metal with the wings of a mosquito, a dummy with an arid, insensitive heart.

The last chapter "Quiete e redenzione del domani" (Quiet and redemption of the future) begins with "Nel crepuscolo" (At dusk). A drum roll and some hard guitar riffs soon give way to a calmer, dreamy passage and to some sax notes that seem glancing towards the sky. The sundown inspires reflections about a dying day while you are searching for your way that time hides. On the following track, "La notte" (The night), the rhythm rises again and shadows start dancing as witches in a black Sabbath. The wind shakes you and you have to fight your demons without regrets. The complex instrumental "L'alba del nuovo giorno" (Dawn of the new day) describes a desperate running along the path of knowledge and the rediscovery of life while the last track, "This is what we've got: the Flute Song" is sung in English and marks the palingenesis of your soul describing a kind of spiritual rebirth that makes you live in harmony with your ancestors... "In the theatre of life everything can become a tragedy... History rests chained in the past, and then reborn... And this is what we've got!".

To be honest the lyrics are not the strength of this album and I find the concept not completely convincing. In my opinion the plot is a bit confused and your imagination has to fill all the gaps. Well, maybe the art cover by Federico Caprai describes the atmosphere of this album better than my words, anyway the music is really good and I think that this album really deserves a try!

Report this review (#815190)
Posted Tuesday, September 4, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars When I listened to Il Bacio Della Medusa (BDM) 2008 second album, Discesa agl'inferi d'un giovane amante I was blown away by their creative musicianship and I was patiently waiting for their next release which unfortunately came disappointing to my ears (released in 2011). But I kept my faith in the talents of the band members and went on following the family tree of BDM and what a surprise...Ornithos (which means Bird in Greek language), a new band with three BDM members namely: Eva Morrelli, Diego Petrini and Federico Caprai decided to expand the horizons of their musical capabilities and experiencing different genres within their solid Rock Progressivo Italiano spirit. Their album La' Transfigurazione, which was released in 2012, consists of 13 tracks in one continuous musical journey. It is mainly an instrumental album with few lyrics and long instrumental solos and jamming uniformly distributed amongst the band members. There are lots of interplay passages involving guitar, keyboard, piano, flutes and different sax sounds. Much more liberally and generously used than BDM two previous albums. There are links to Jethro Tull, Camel, Pink Floyd, Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso and even Black Sabbath but don't get me wrong. The blender for these sounds is RPI and more specifically Ornithos unique signature who retained an authentic RPI seventies' flavour. The styles you can find here are symphonic progressive rock/Space-Psych Rock/jazz/metal and also Flamenco-flavoured Spanish acoustic passages. the opening L'orologio (the Clock) track sets the scene to what is coming with its tolling bells introduction with male vocals reciting few words in Italian, this is followed by mellow piano with nice flute playing, at 2:00 the sound became more progressive with nice flute solo then electric guitar, excellent piece. The sound has inspirations from Camel's early works mainly Mirage and Moon Madness albums. At 4:40 the guitar solo turns into distorted one mimicking Eastern sound (which I can say there is some similarity to Camel's Rajaz album opener instrumental, Three Wishes), song No. 2, La Persistenza Della Memoria ( The persistence of Memory) starts with melodic flute solo that reminded me of Camel's Song Within a Song. Lyrics in Italian with male vocals of Diego Petrini, a very interesting one. Somatizzando l'altare Di Fuoco is one of the best songs on the album and it starts with a jazzy bass introduction, then keyboard comes in and Saxophone sound merges in a crescendo mood until it reaches climax at 01:17 and continues with a charming melodic harmonious mix of sax and guitar and Mexican/Spanish sax sounds after that. There are some recitations in Italian which added to the richness of the song (similarity found here with Eloy's Up and Down from the album Inside) the song goes back to its Jazz Rock sound at 04:00 with very nice keyboard and guitar solos. L'ipostasi (the Hypostasis) has unique folky and (may be Salsa) and again the band members exhibit their talents with an awesome acoustic guitar and piano. Nuvole e Luce it is here the female voice first introduced to the album with a great wailing in a Floydian Great Gig in The Sky sound at the beginning of the song. The voice is of Maria Giulia Carnevalini and it was magnificent; there is also great flute solo in this song by Eva Morrelli. Nel Crepuscolo (song 10) starts with Black Sabbath-inspired riff. A mix of Heavy Prog and Sabbath metal style. Again amazing guitar solo, Sax sound and flute touches. Male vocals with much nicer female backing vocals. The last 2 songs are strongly Dark Side of The Moon reminders. L'alba Del Nuovo Giorno the sax and guitar sound is so great and here Antonello De Cesare's playing style is strongly Gilmour-influenced. The last song This Is What We've Got: The Flute Song, the only one with English lyrics. Here Maria Giulia Carnevalini shows her vocal talents in an unprecedented way in this album. The sound is very jazzy especially when the instrumental solo begins at 03:35. Great keyboard followed by saxophone then scorching electric guitar. In summary this album is like a basket of Belgian Chocolate Collection, they all taste sweet but have different flavours. If you think RPI is fading away then get this album and you find that you are wrong. Forget about British Prog scene. It is just like a post-menopausal woman doing facelift, liposuction and boob job to retain a glimpse from a bygone youth and if you do not believe me go and get Hackett and Squires recent release Squackett. It is there in Italy where bands like BDM, Minstrel, QLS and Ornithos are still producing creative original Prog to our ears. The last comment is about Eva Morelli's talent. She used the saxophone more frequently and liberally in this album in a very structured and creative style. I found her flute playing is more similar to Andy Latimer's (Camel) than to Ian Anderson but also reminiscent of the Italian band Allusa Fallax. Petrini's talent also cannot be ignored and finally Antonello De Cesare guitar sound was also awesome. Maria Giulia Carnevalini has a very good voice and I wished that she was the lead vocals on all songs in this album. Very good album. 4/5 stars
Report this review (#878361)
Posted Wednesday, December 19, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars 3,5 stars really. In spite you can find countless well-know "cliché" of rock in this album from ORNITHOS "La Trasfigurazione" the final results are far away to displeasure or boring... at least in the most of tracks. Due to the form of arrangements and the excellent musicians approach of such themes. The musical "landscape" is near to prog rock scenery of 70's and practically include all styles of prog rock (with exception of space-prog and R I O ) you can find - eclectic/heavy/jazz-fusion- and a hint of symphonic and folk. The sound invoke influences from Italian bands like BANCO, CAMPO DI MARTE and some pinchs of Formula 3 ( the two first in a more heavy passages), although, also be presents influences from bands from others countries, as for instance, KING CRIMSOM and VDGG. Besides this influences in some moments you can find unusual elements in RPI, like in the track 3 "Somatizzando l'altare Di Fuoco" (the use of a pedal steel guitar or boottleneck), track 4" L'ipostasi" ( a track with a Rumba or Tango flavor), track 5 " Al Torneo " ( with a intial martial theme). The final result is a pleasent audience . My rate is 3 stars !!!
Report this review (#894255)
Posted Tuesday, January 15, 2013 | Review Permalink

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